Classified Employee Association to ask for increase in cost of living adjustment
Starting just a few weeks ago, Chemeketa’s Classified Employee Association and the administration have gone back to the negotiating table for employee contracts.
Classified employees are the support staff of the school. The bookkeepers, secretaries, testers and coordinators. Their current contract is up June 30, 2019, and typically last three years.
During the negotiation talks, the Classifieds will not be asking for raises, but rather an increase in their current pay scale and cost of living adjustments [COLAs] amongst other language changes in current articles.
Classified Employee Association President Terry Rohse, who’s heading the team on the Classifieds side, said, “we’re going to ask for the usual things…we’d be asking for COLAs and steps and the things that the Classified employees are interested in…money…and there are a lot of articles that we’re going to go back and take a look at that are outdated, or need new language.”
“The way we word things is we ask for a cost of living increase. And it…used to be tied to the consumer price index, but it’s now been to where we actually negotiate a percentage. And we do that…every negotiation we’ve negotiated the cost of living allowance and we also negotiate our steps as we progress through our careers here at Chemeketa,” said Rohse.
The Association will also be asking for an increase in the pay scale from the current contract. Rohse said, “what we have is…the longer you’re here, you get a step increase. So that’s basically your raise every year. It’s…in our contract right now…it’s our pay scale. So, we look at that and we negotiate how that’s going…the steps that we’re going to get and the percentages.”
Facing possible budget shortfalls next year from state funding, Associate Vice President Miriam Scharer, who’s a member of the administration’s negotiating team, said the administration would assess those requests.
“Any articles that come forward, or any proposals that come forward, that have an impact on the budget would have to be weighed. We’d have to cost those out. We’d have to look at what our existing budget is and what room we have to add any additional costs. So any proposal that comes forward, we evaluate the cost and we look at how that would impact our budget,” Scharer said.
With only two meetings down, the process of negotiations has not begun yet. Instead, the administration and the Classifieds have begun laying ground rules and scheduling when particular proposals for changes in the contract, or articles, will be discussed.
Scharer said, “what generally happens in the first three meetings, either side…can bring forward articles. So each contract bargaining agreement has several articles in it. The parties can bring forward a list of articles to open. And so, we’re in the process of that. The administration has presented theirs, classified association has presented theirs.”
Each article must be T.A.’d, or have a tentative agreement on, before the proposed contract is given to the Classifieds to be ratified by the Association members. After that, the proposed contract will be given to Chemeketa’s Board of Education for final approval.
Both Scharer and Rohse have said talks have been successful and cordial thus far. Rohse said, “the administration has really been fair with us. They have only X number of dollars that they can allocate, and we know this. The administration has always been very willing to listen to us and to negotiate and to get the best deal we can get for them and us. I’ve got a lot of confidence in this particular negotiating team. They’ve got a very good team, we’ve got a very good team. And we’re looking at trying to make everything better for everyone, not just one or two certain people.”
Scharer said of the meetings, “I think that we’re able to have challenging conversations because when you talk about compensation there’s always a…it’s a challenge. We’re able to have those respectfully. And I think that would probably be how I would characterize our negotiation relationship is very respectful on both parts.”
The Classified Employee Association team includes Terry Rohse, Kyle Anderson, Mary Schroeder, Kevin Keaney, who is an attorney for the Classifieds and John Sutter, who is another attorney. There are also alternates: Octavian Dum and Gail Williams-Pickett.
For the administration, the negotiation team will be headed by Vice President of Governance and Administration David Hallett. Other members include Scharer, Alice Sprague, the Director of Human Resources, J.D. Wolfe the Director of Information Technology and Manuel Guerra, the Executive Dean for S.D.L.R. [Student Development Learning Resources]. Also working with the team is Bryan Knowles, who is one of Chemeketa’s budget analysts.
The next bargaining meeting will take place on Mar. 14, 2019.